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Wearable tech set to tackle sports head injuries

Start-up HIT, has developed wearable technology which measures and tracks head impact force in sport and recreational activities in order to aid research and support informed decisions on the risk of brain injury.

Based at the Edinburgh Business School (EBS) Incubator within Heriot-Watt University, HIT was set up two years ago as a university project by founder Euan Bowen.

Featuring a unique impact sensor, wearable across multiple sporting and activity applications, the device clips onto any helmet or halo headband, detecting G-Force and recording impact via a companion app. Utilising a traffic light system, the app records data and acts as an early warning notification for the user regarding the level of impact force recorded and highlights the caution required in continued exercise.

Bowen, an avid rugby player, said that he was inspired to develop the technology, named HIT Impact, after a close friend and teammate was injured. With brain injuries rarely reported, Bowen spotted a gap in the market for sportspeople to track brain health.

The sensor is accompanied by an app which has a 150m range and is capable of recording for multiple devices. It also features a ‘Team Play’ recording function for sports like football and rugby.

During the pandemic, HIT has catalysed future plans for product development, and has subsequently launched its first Kickstarter campaign to enable the company to move into production within the next two months.

“HIT Impact uses technology to monitor and identify user impact levels throughout a game in real time. It works by creating a baseline level of force incurred by the user and tracking any impact throughout their playing time," explained Bowen. "Once the baseline is met, the user is then removed from play to prevent further impacts. They can then be assessed using current concussion guidelines to deem their fitness to return to play. By tracking these impacts, we can collect data anonymously and build a data bank of situational head impact data to aid further research and understanding of traumatic brain injuries.

“High impact sports are focusing increasingly on concussion mitigation with the Field (Football's Influence on Lifelong Health and Dementia Risk) study recently finding that former professionals are three and a half times more likely to die of dementia than the general population."

Kallum Russell, Manager of the EBS Incubator added, “HIT Impact is a much-needed technology to track and support the current efforts to increase sports safety at a time when governing bodies across high impact sports are increasingly focused on minimising head trauma."

Author
Neil Tyler

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